Speaking at MCA’s Restaurant Conference, Dishoom managing director Brian Trollip and co-founder Shamil Thakrar described how the move to delivery has proved crucial for restaurant group during lockdown.
The new revenue stream has provided a boost for the balance sheet while the restaurants have remained closed, but Trollip also highlighted the role delivery has played in keeping its teams together, and driving engagement.
“It’s kept people employed,” he said. “It’s been something that we’ve managed to get really excited about and put a decent amount of energy into while our restaurants have been closed. It's more than a lifeline."
The success of its two recent dark kitchen openings suggest that delivery could form a part of the business’ regional strategy going forward, according to Thakrar.
He said the business may use delivery – as it has done in Brighton and Cambridge – to meet demand as consumers “transfer from central to local,” but that it would not distract from Dishoom’s traditional approach to growth in large sites in high-footfall locations.
Confidence in city centres
In the meantime, Thakrar said Dishoom will “work really, really hard to get people back in,” but the business remains confident that central locations will adapt and recover.
“In the short-term it won’t be easy to get everyone back into town,” he said. “It’s going to take a little while. There’s going to be a party effect, where everyone wants to get back out, but I think there will also be an effect where there are less people around, and it’s going to take some time to grow back to previous volumes.”
“In the end we do believe the town centres will work,” he said. “They’ll be exciting places and people will come back in to play and to be together. The middle is the middle for a reason, because everyone can get to it.
“The town centres aren’t going to empty out and in due course I believe people will live more in town centres. So, we’re still excited about our big, beautiful restaurants, but we might be doing a couple of other things too.”
For now, Trollip said the group was focusing primarily on improving the offer, though there is “certainly one eye” on expansion, and “half an eye on what the [at-home] market might look like when we reopen and people can come back in, sit next to each other, and enjoy the restaurants”.
To watch all the footage from the event click here.